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Demonstrations take place in London over new porno rules

Demonstrators stood outside Parliament in London last week in protest of new pornography regulations.

New regulations banning certain acts in porno films
Demonstrators gathered outside the Parliament building in London to show their disapproval of a new regulation which aims to ban various sex acts from appearing in pornography films made in the United Kingdom, reported BBC News. Paid-for online porn will now fall under the same rules as content made for sex shops. Those that participated in the demonstration simulated some of the newly-banned sex acts, including "face-sitting," according to CNN.

The 2014 Audiovisual Media Services Regulation came in effect in early December and the government announced that it would work to eliminate content deemed inappropriate. The BBC also noted that acts that cannot be classified with a R18, according to guidelines set forth by the British Board of film Classification, are now prohibited.

Practices such as strangulation, face-sitting and spanking are now banned by the BBFC, partly to protect children from potentially harmful content. Protesters argued that restrictions which correspond to women do not apply for men and that there is a disconnect. They referred to changes to the law as arbitrary and sexist, reported CNN.

Critics of the new regulations also expressed their opinion that online viewers will still be able to access content not produced in the U.K. According to the BBC, approximately 20 couples participated in Friday's protest regarding the new rules.

A threat to freedom of expression
Charlotte Rose, organizer of the protest and winner of the U.K. sex worker of the year title in 2013, called the new rules "ludicrous."  She indicated that the new prohibited acts had been included in the banned list without public participation or acknowledgment.

"They've done this without public knowledge and without public consent," Rose said, reported BBC News.

Rose also said that the restrictions were a threat to freedom of expression, according to CNN.

"This is about censorship, and what the government is doing is they're censoring our consent – so yes, it does affect women, but it also affects every man and every woman … It affects anybody who enjoys these particular activities," Rose added.

Isabel Dean, a fetishist from London, argued that the new restrictions would negatively impact society and people's economic stability.

"It's a farcical thing to breach people's basic rights to explore their sexual freedom, and it's just so limiting to U.K. producers and performers … If you're working for yourself, producing your own clips, your own website, it's really damaging. Some people have had to close down sites that they've been working on for years," Dean said, according to BBC News.

The government says regulations are not new
The government indicated that the new regulations were introduced without participation from Parliament because they essentially mimicked existing laws for physical videos and transposed them to online pornography. A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport made a statement to this effect, reported BBC News.  

"The legislation provides the same level of protection to the online world that exists on the High Street in relation to the sale of physical DVDs," said the spokeswoman.

Lawmaker Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats, put forward a motion in Parliament last week that calls for the new measures to be annulled, according to CNN.

It is always tricky when the government tries to ban controversial content. People will continue to say that the new rules constitute censorship and a violation of freedom of expression. Ultimately, this debate will have to continue for some time until public consensus is reached regarding the issue. For now, it should be entertaining to watch it all unfold. 

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